By Tom Degun in St Kitts and Nevis

Ajith Nivard_Cabraal__with_Mark_Stockwell_St_Kitts_November_2011November 12 - Hambantota 2018 bid co-chairman Ajith Nivard Cabraal has offered his congratulations to the Gold Coast after they secured the right to stage the 2018 Commonwealth Games yesterday evening and hinted that Sri Lanka may well bid for the event again in the future.

The Australian city defeated their Sri Lankan rivals after the 70 voting delegates at the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) General Assembly here voted by 43 votes to 27 in favour of the Gold Coast.

The margin of victory was wider that many predicted in what was a fascinating contest throughout but Cabraal, who is also the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, was humble in defeat.

He praised Gold Coast 2018 chairman Mark Stockwell and said that the process of bidding will undoubtedly benefit Hambantota, who are set to build the majority of the sporting venues in the region despite the defeat.

"Congratulations to Mark and his team, I am sure they will host a fantastic event in 2018," said Cabraal.

"It is disappointing of course that we will not see a Hambantota Games in 2018.

"But we have said all along that bidding for these prestigious Games is a key part of an exciting and progressive journey in Sri Lanka."

Ajith Nivard_Cabraal__with_Mike_Hooper_Anna_Bligh_and_Prince_Tunku
Cabraal - pictured above with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, CGF chief executive Mike Hooper and new CGF President Prince Tunku Imran - also suggested that Sri Lanka is likely to return to bid for event in the future.

"Our story will boost tourism because images of our culture, history, stunning scenery and beaches and the friendliness of our people has been shown around the world," he said.

"But perhaps most importantly, our reputation has been enhanced because we have demonstrated our determination to build, further reconcile and unify our nation with for example a massive investment programme in infra-structure and new projects over the next five years.

"I am absolutely certain that by putting forward such a credible bid we have increased our chances of attracting sporting and other international events to Sri Lanka and indeed we already have done so with the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit coming to Sri Lanka in two years' time."

The decision was announced by outgoing CGF President Mike Fennell of Jamaica.

It was his last official act as CGF President after 17 years in the role, handing over to Prince Imran.

Fennell had previously said that he felt very happy that the Commonwealth Games had reached a stage where it could attract "two superb bids like these".

Cabraal added: "I must add that I am proud that the Gold Coast and ourselves have given Mike a candidature contest befitting of his final act as CGF President.

"Such a strong and exciting contest shows just how far the Commonwealth Games has come under his reign."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
November 2011: "I wanted to vote for Hambantota" admits Gold Coast 2018 chairman after victory
November 2011: Gold Coast awarded 2018 Commonwealth Games
November 2011: Muralitharan star as Hambantota tug at heart strings in 2018 bid
November 2011: Exclusive - Australia have hosted four Commonwealth Games, now it is our turn, says Hambantota 2018 chief 
November 2011: Exclusive - Vote is open, says Gold Coast 2018 chairman